By the time my son was born, my twin girls were already old enough to keep themselves fairly entertained (plus having a built-in playmate helped the cause) when it came to me doing activities like household chores or cooking a meal. That wasn’t, and still isn’t, the case with my son.
While making dinner isn’t my preferred way to relax, before my son was born, my time in the kitchen usually gave me a few moments where I could focus on doing something other than being a mom. But especially when I first went back to work after my maternity leave with my son, I always found it difficult to have that moment of alone time that I had before.
Instead of trying to fight for my few moments of peace, I decided to reinvent what that time in the kitchen meant for me.
I decided to clear out towels or whatever I had in one of my kitchen drawers near the ground and began putting a few of my son’s toys in there. When he was younger, it was easy to rotate the toys from ones in his play area to the kitchen drawer – it’s amazing what new life a toy has when it’s found in a spot where it’s not found normally!
As a baby, it took my son a while to catch on that he had a spot in the kitchen just for a few of his things. But as he got older he began to go looking in “his” kitchen drawer for fun activities while I got the time to prepare a meal. He would play in the kitchen near his drawer while I would do what I needed to get done. It was, and still is, a win-win for our family.
Now that my son is in pre-school, he still has his kitchen drawer, although it’s evolved a little bit.
He and his sisters will now usually give me the space I need to make a meal in the kitchen, but I still find my son putting toys he’s deemed special in his drawer so he doesn’t have to share. In an ever-busy house where everyone is craving for mom’s attention, I take time to see what’s in my son’s drawer and express enthusiasm when he shares why he’s put a toy in there.
Currently in my son’s kitchen drawer are green army men toys, a sticker from when he got stitches at urgent care, his latest kid’s meal toy from a fast food restaurant, and the participation medal he received from his first soccer team. All of varying importance to anyone else, but for him, they’re all special.
I’m not sure how long my son will continue to put his important items in his kitchen drawer, but for now, it is still a great way for us to connect and be in each other’s presence for as long as he wants.